Fewer worker deaths in solid waste industry

According to a recent report by the United States Department of Labor, the number of fatalities by solid waste collection workers declined substantially in 2009 compared to 2008. In its Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the fatality rate during 2009 for both solid waste collection and landfill employees continued to decline, as it has in recent years.

The BLS report indicates that the fatality rate for solid waste collection workers (both refuse and recyclable material collectors) decreased from 31 fatalities in 2008 to 19 fatalities in 2009, a 39 percent drop. The report indicated that the number of fatalities for all waste management and remediation service employees (including collection, landfill workers, etc.) fell from 74 to 43 during the same period, a 42 percent drop.

NSWMA safety director David Biderman stated, “We are very pleased that the solid waste industry reduced the number of workplace fatalities in 2009. According to NSWMA data, the leading cause of waste collection worker fatality is being struck by another vehicle, and we will continue to work with members, regulators and others to educate the public about this hazard. Seven collection workers were killed in struck bys in 2009, and there have been at least 4 fatal struck bys so far in 2010.”

Biderman urged all haulers and local governments to participate in NSWMA’s safety programs, including the Be Safe Be Proud and Slow Down to Get Around (SDTGA) programs, and communicate the importance of working safely to their employees.